Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility

Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility

This systematic analysis of State complicity in international law focuses on the rules of State responsibility. Combining a theoretical perspective on complicity based on the concept of the international rule of law with a thorough analysis of international practice, Helmut Philipp Aust establishes what forms of support for wrongful conduct entail responsibility of complicit States and sheds light on the consequences of complicity in terms of reparation and implementation. Furthermore, he highlights how international law provides for varying degrees of responsibility in cases of complicity, depending on whether peremptory norms have been violated or special subject areas such as the law of collective security are involved. The book shows that the concept of State complicity is firmly grounded in international law, and that the international rule of law may serve as a conceptual paradigm for today's international legal order.


"... a structured and insightful analysis of this area of international law and ... a timely examination of the subject. ... Due to its breadth, depth of coverage, and systematic analysis, Aust's work will likely become regarded as an important treatise on state complicity."

"The timing of Article 16 was fortuitous, for in the past decade the issue of complicity has moved to the centre of debates about international law. If the 2003 invasion of Iraq was illegal – as many now believe it was – were non-participating countries that allowed the invading forces to use their airspace or territory also violating international law? If the United States’ programme of ‘extraordinary rendition’ was illegal, what of those countries that allowed the CIA to use their airspace and airports, or to set up secret prisons within their territory? Neither Article 16 nor its supporting commentary can fully answer these questions, [3] and this is where Helmut Philipp Aust’s excellent new book comes in. A Senior Research Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin, Aust provides a comprehensive examination of state practice as it relates to complicity, along with a thought-provoking theoretical discussion of where the concept might fit within the current and future development of international law."

"It was high time for an academic treatment of this fundamental issue for the international legal order. A decisive contribution in this regard has now been made by Helmut Philipp Aust… The history, content, structure and international legal context of the norm are analysed by the author in a comprehensive and precise manner. This is also true for the conflicts between law, morals and politics which impact upon the development and interpretation of the rule on complicity. Aust takes the position of a carefully balancing pragmatist who clearly identifies international legal deficits, but refrains from moral rigour. In general, the book excels by its high relevance to practice.”

"Consultation of the book by Helmut Philipp Aust is essential for understanding the notion of complicity.... The discussions in the book rest on an impressive range of material and on rigorous reasoning, the whole being written in a direct and engaging style. Reading of this book is to be recommended to everyone interested in the law of international responsibility."


Hermann Mosler Prize, German Society for International Law 2013 - Winner